The Future of Ground Zero

Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki unveil their designs for three towers at the World Trade Center site

At a press conference yesterday, architects Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki unveiled designs for three towers that will rise along the eastern edge of the World Trade Center site. Following a clockwise spiral from the Freedom Tower, each of the buildings steps down in height, gradually descending to the WTC memorial.

For Tower 2, Foster designed a 78-story skyscraper that peaks with a slanted diamond-shaped top, acknowledging the memorial below. “It is generated by that tragic event of the past. But optimistically, in terms of the future, it’s an iconic, distinct, unique shape on the skyline,” Foster said. Organized around a cruciform core, deep channels slice the tower into four vertical volumes, which also break the summit into four smaller diamond forms. The unique roofline will be illuminated at night.

Tower 2 -- Courtesy Foster and Partners

Further south, Rogers’ 71-story Tower 3 features a slender glass box encased in an exterior steel frame of diagonal braces. The tower has two shoulder volumes of different heights and straddles a long, low “podium building” near the ground. “We made it as slim as possible, like many of the older [towers] of a 100 years ago, to give it a stronger feel of reaching upwards,” Rogers explained.

WTC Site by day -- Courtesy SPI, dbox

Maki introduced a 61-story minimalist tower clad in glass lined with perforated metal, which is intended to deliver a unique luminosity. “Tower 4 embraces an abstract quality: minimal, light, cool in color and ephemeral, changing with the light of the day,” Maki said. The tower’s crown is also angled toward the memorial, and vertical indentations along the southwest and northeast corners sharpen the building’s edges.

All three towers will seek LEED gold ratings, and are scheduled for completion by 2012.

WTC Site Plan -- Courtesy SPI, Foster and Partners

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